Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Urges President to Veto Sham Food Labeling Bill

Jul 21, 2016
Press Release
“Consumers Have a Right to Know What’s in Their Food”

Congressman Supports Disclosure of Genetically Engineered Food

WASHINGTON – Saying consumers deserve to know whether their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged President Obama to veto a bogus labeling bill passed by Congress.

“This legislation does nothing to ensure that consumers will have the information they need to make informed decisions at the supermarket,” Buchanan said in a letter sent today to the president. “This is a sham bill that pretends to offer disclosure but in truth has so many loopholes that it is meaningless.”

Buchanan noted that the bill is opposed by leading consumer groups, including, the Center for Food Safety, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Consumers Union. 

Buchanan said the bill cynically included a gaping loophole that allowed food producers to bypass true labeling with a telephone number consumers could call to ask questions or with a QR code they could scan with a smartphone to connect with a website that may or may not answer their questions.

“What I want to ensure is that families get all the information they need to make decisions,” Buchanan told the president. “What they do with that information is up to them.”

The bill gives food manufacturers two years to update their packaging to provide information on GMOs through several options. Companies can disclose genetically modified ingredients through text directly on the product, or by including a picture similar to a bar code, called a QR code, that consumers can scan using a smartphone, or by placing a telephone number or website address on the product.

“Food labeling needs to be simple and clear,” Buchanan said. “QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?”

Approximately 70 to 80 percent of packaged food in the U.S. contains GMOs through ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Campbell’s Soup Inc., General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., ConAgra Foods Inc., and Mars, Inc. are some of the country’s top food giants that have announced their commitment to voluntarily label GMOs.


Full text of Buchanan’s letter below:


July 21, 2016

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

People have a right to know what’s in the food they are purchasing for themselves and their children. That is why I urge you to veto a bill (S.764) that has been presented for your signature. This legislation does nothing to ensure that consumers will have the information they need to make informed decisions at the supermarket.

This is a sham bill that pretends to offer disclosure but in truth has so many loopholes that it is meaningless. S. 764 allows food producers to bypass true labeling with a telephone number consumers could call to ask questions or with a QR code they could scan with a smartphone to connect with a website that may or may not answer their questions.

Food labeling needs to be simple and clear. QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?

Moreover, prominent consumer advocates oppose this legislation, including the Center for Food Safety, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the Consumers Union.

What I want to ensure is that families get all the information they need to make decisions. What they do with that information is up to them. I urge you to veto S.764 and work with Congress on developing a transparent food labeling standard. 

Sincerely,

 

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress